Wednesday, March 27, 2019

#74 Walt Moryn

Walt Moryn   Chicago Cubs

Career: Moryn played eight years in the Dodgers' chain before getting his ticket punched for a ride to Wrigley and an everyday spot in the Cubs' outfield. He had home run power and a big arm which led to league-leading assist numbers. He made the All-Star squad in 1958. After his time with the Cubs, he played part-time roles for a few seasons for the Cards and Pirates and retired in 1961.

In 1960: Moryn was hitting almost .300 when he was dealt at the trade deadline to the Cardinals. This came a month after his shoestring catch was the last and biggest out of Don (This Is My First Cub Start) Caldwell's no-hitter. He didn't maintain his average in St. Louis but he did end up with 13 homers and hit .264 for the season.

Off The Charts: SABR sez: "...Moryn will be remembered best for one outstanding moment in a Chicago uniform. It came on Sunday, May 15, 1960, when Moose made “the catch” that preserved a no-hitter for teammate Don Cardwell."

Also worth noting....he is another Navy vet who saw action in the Pacific. 

The Card: Has that Wrigley Field vibe even though the background in the photo is obscured. Sometimes four colors are one too many. That's the case here. Highlights list shows he had a big September in '59 and the cartoon is a good one.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Tigers Team Trio #72, #214 & #461

The Tigers finished sixth in the AL in 1960. They were 26 games back of the Yankees and knotted in a bunch with the Indians and Senators. They were mid-pack at best in hitting, fielding, and pitching overall ratings as well.

Frank Lary, Jim Bunning and Don Mossi were the top of the rotation with Hank Aguirre serving as what passed for a 'closer' in those days. He had 10 saves.

The Tigers had plenty of power and finished second to the Yankees in homers but were at or near the bottom in runs, RBIs and average. They had some speed as they were #2 in stolen bases. This wasn't one of Al Kaline's best years and the homer and RBI team crowns went to Rocky Colivito.

Sharp design on the team cards and, as usual, I got off cheap by buying one that has a marked up checklist reverse. 

I know for sure what Jimmie/Jimmy Dykes is doing. He's composing a letter asking Topps to at least spell his name the same way on both sides of his cards.

Jimmy/Jimmie managed for twenty one years in the big leagues, mostly with the White Sox. He was a player/manager for his first six seasons in Chicago. He later had stints with the Athletics, Reds, Orioles, Tigers and Indians. His three year run with the A's was the longest of any with those clubs. He averaged a fifth place finish in his long managerial career and three 3rd place finishes with the ChiSox were the best he could muster.

He had 21 seasons as a player and hit .280 for his career. He played in three World Series and won two of them. All that time in a dugout certainly helped him perfect the 'foot up on the dugout looking thoughtful' step thing.
- 5 Tool Collector, May 2013,

In a weird transaction, he was part of the only manager-for-manager trade in baseball history.  He switched jobs with  Joe Gordon of the Indians in August. If that wasn't odd enough, two coaches were swapped as well.

Luke Appling was a Hall of Fame player and Billy Hitchcock was a baseball lifer who spent time as a college and pro player, coach, manager and front office-type. Tom Ferrick was a relief pitcher for six different AL clubs in the 40s and 50s and served in the Pacific with the Navy in WWII. He was coached and scouted. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

#71 Marty Keough

Marty Keough  Boston Red Sox

Career: He spent six seasons in the minors and hit well everywhere he stopped but he never could sustain that in the majors. He carved out a long (11 seasons) career as a defensive late-inning replacement and/or fourth outfielder. The only year he approached full-time starter status was in 1961 with the new Washington franchise. He played for the Reds, White Sox, and Braves, Red Sox, Nats, and Indians. He was a scout for the Cardinals until recently.

In 1960: After 38 games and a bit over 100 at-bats, Keough was hitting .248 and maybe in need of a change. In mid-June, he was traded with Ted Bowsfield to the Cleveland Indians for Carroll Hardy and Russ Nixon. Over the rest of the season with the Indians, he hit .248 proving that he was nothing if not consistent. Nixon, meanwhile, hit .298 for the year and solidified the Sox' catching situation. The Indians allowed him to be taken by the Senators in the expansion draft after the season.

Off The Charts: "He comes from a baseball family: he is the older brother of Joe Keough, a former MLB outfielder, and father of Matt Keough, a right-handed pitcher who was a 16-game-winner for Billy Martin's 1980 Oakland A's. Matt also played in Japan, making them one of the few American father-son duos to both play there." -Wikipedia

The Card: The seafoam green isn't really common in this set. It was more popular in Topps' '59 set. Mixed with the orange/black/white...not doing much for me. Nice Comiskey background though. The write-up really sings his praises

Saturday, March 23, 2019

#70 Lou Burdette

Lou Burdette  Milwaukee Braves

Career: Burdette won over 200 games pitching for 18 seasons with six different clubs. But he was best known as Warren Spahn's mound mate with the Braves in the 50s. He helped them to a couple of World Series appearances and the '57 title. His three WS wins that year (all complete games, two shutouts!) earned him Series MVP honors.

In 1960: He went 18-13 with a 3.36 ERA and he lad the NL with 18 complete games.

Off The Charts: Wikipedia sez...In 1958, a reference to Burdette appeared in an episode of Leave It To Beaver. The text "Lew Burdette just hit a home run and Milwaukee leads seven to one in the series." appears briefly in a few frames showing a letter from the principal to Beaver's parents.[19] Burdette also cut a record in the 1950s entitled "Three Strikes and Then You're Out".

The Card: Three-color fronts rule! Especially yellow-black-white ones! Add in Wrigley Field, the Braves' uni, and Burdette's smirk and we have a winner.

Friday, March 22, 2019

#69 Billy Goodman

Billy Goodman  Chicago White Sox

Career: Goodman had a 16-year career which had gone largely under-the-radar given what he accomplished. He played for 11 seasons with the Red Sox and won the 1950 batting title with a .354 mark. He finished second (to Phil Rizzuto) in the MVP voting that year. Overall, in 17 seasons with Boston, the White Sox, Orioles and expansion Colt 45s, he had a career .300 average and played every position except pitcher and catcher. He was twice an All-Star and he picked up MVP votes in six seasons. He had three hits and an RBI in the 1959 Series. 

In 1960: His career was beginning to wind down and he was little used by Al Lopez in '60 as he got only 77 at-bats. He was left available in the AL expansion draft after the season but went undrafted.

Off The Charts: After his big league days he became the player/manager of the Durham Bulls and pitched a bit for them. That meant that the only position he hadn't played as a pro was catcher.

The Card: Classic White Sox card with Goodman sporting that cap with the red-outlined lettering (I love that one) and the TV sleeve numbers. He's at Yankee Stadium and the card has a sweet color combo. And, hey, howdy, hey...he's wearing a cap!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

#68 Dave Hillman

Dave Hillman   Boston Red Sox

Career: He was an Air Force vet playing weekend ball when the Cubs signed him. He had outstanding minor league seasons which he could never replicate in the bigs. His 8 wins in 1959 were a career high but not enough to prevent him from being traded to Boston. Overall he won 21 games spread over parts of eight seasons. In 1962 he had been traded from Boston to the Reds who, after two shaky games, returned him to the Red Sox. The Sox dealt him to the fledgling Mets and he finished his career there that season. 

In 1960: Hillman spent long stretches on the DL beginning in spring training and ended up only pitching 36 (very rocky) innings that year.

Off The Charts: His sporadic use in 1960 first came as the result of a car wreck which is detailed in his SABR bio:

His Red Sox career almost ended before it began. A spring training headline out of Scottsdale read: “Hillman Career May Be Ended By Car Injuries.” Early in the morning of March 10, the automobile Marty Keough was driving reportedly hit a soft shoulder and rolled over five times before coming to a stop. The AP report said the accident occurred at 1:15 AM but the two players claimed it happened at 12:35 AM and that they would have otherwise made it back to the Safari Hotel before the 1:00 AM curfew. They were traveling 70 mph in a 45-mph zone, and the car was demolished after skidding over 600 feet and landing on its roof. Keough was shaken up, but Hillman required seven stitches in his head and badly bruised his right shoulder. Manager Billy Jurges chose not to penalize them. Hillman showed up later that day, his arm in a sling.7 He returned to action on April 16.

The Card: Yet another capless player, the fourth in a row to be posted. At least Topps had a reason for Hillman's pic. He had been traded by the Cubs to the Red Sox over the winter. And there's a bit of irony here with the cartoon showing 'Hillman' and an RC policeman given his 1960 wreck. Bonus points for the transaction being listed as a highlight bullet point. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

#67 Jose Pagan

Jose Pagan    San Francisco Giants
Career: He played 15 seasons in the majors beginning with a taste of the bigs in 1959. The largest chunk of his career was split evenly between the Giants as the starting shortstop,  and Pirates platooning at third. He was steady at the plate (.250 career average) and in general a decent glove guy. He led the NL shortstops in fielding in 1962. He played in two World Series and won a ring with the '71 Pirates. He homered in the '62 Series and his double in Game Seven in 1971 drove in the winning run. He finished his career with a stint on the Phillies in 1972.

In 1960: He started the season with the Giants and got in a few pinch-hitting assignments before heading back to AAA. He was back up in September and started at short for the last few weeks on the season and hit well enough (.286) to establish himself as the starter going forward for the Giants.

Off The Charts: "During a 1971 interview with the Sporting News, Pagan had revealed that he often “managed” games in his own mind from the Pirates’ bench. “I think to myself the type move I might make in a certain situation,” Pagan explained. “I think that’s common among ballplayers, especially those who are thinking of staying in the game. I think it’s important for a manager to be an inning ahead in his thinking during the game.”

The above quote comes from a Baseball Hall of Fame page that highlights Pagan's 1972 Topps card and his career in general.

The Card: A third consecutive capless player card. Pagan had been in a Giants uniform in 1959 long enough to have posed for pics so it seems odd that Topps chose a capless one for this card. The red railings identify the photo as being from Seals Stadium. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

#66 Bob Trowbridge

Bob Trowbridge  Kansas City Athletics

Career: Beginning in 1951 he had an outstanding minor league career which bracketed a 3-year military stint. He finally reached the Braves in 1956. He mostly pitched out of the bullpen for all or part of the next four seasons in Milwaukee and for one year in KC. He was 13-13 with a 3.95 ERA in 116 games. He made 25 starts along the way. He pitched one (very rocky) inning in Game Three of the 1957 Series against the Yankees.

In 1960: After being purchased by the A's the previous October, Trowbridge pitched with limited success thru July in KC before he was farmed out. He finished the 1960 season in the minors and spent 1961 there as well and then retired. 

Off The Charts: After he retired Trowbridge returned to his native Hudson, N.Y. and worked in the prison facility there.

The Card: This is the second in a string of capless card subjects. Unlike the previous Elston Howard card, this one shows a player who changed teams prior to the 1960 season. Love the colors and the old A's logo is fun.

Monday, March 18, 2019

#65 Elston Howard

Elston Howard   New York Yankees

Career: Elston Howard had a terrific 14 season career. He broke in with the Yankees in 1955 playing a lot of outfield since Yogi Berra was entrenched behind the plate. A few seasons later the catching job was Howard's for good. He was the first black player to take the field for the Yankees and the first black player to win the AL MVP. He made nine consecutive AL All-Star team and made 10 World Series appearances including his part as a veteran leader of the '67 Impossible Dream Red Sox. He won four rings and a couple of Gold Gloves along the way.

In 1960: He struggled with injuries and played in only about 100 games. His .245 average and reduced power reflect his struggles in 1960. He was two seasons away from his '62 MVP year. But he was sufficiently recovered from a last-day-of-the-season sprained finger to go 6 for 13 with a homer and four RBIs in the 1960 World Series. Ironically, a Bob Friend pitch in Ellie's first at-bat in Game Six of the Series broke one of his fingers.

Off The Charts: Ellie owned a travel agency in Nutley, NJ while I was growing up there. He was the first ballplayer I met in person. He also created the weighted 'donut' batters have used in the on-deck circle ever since. 

The Card: Really nice color combo. But I have to wonder why Ellie was shown cap-less. it's not like he's with a new team. I do like cards which show the batting cage in the background. I no longer get to games early enough to watch BP but back in the day my father considered it mandatory.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

#64 Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer  Philadelphia Phillies

Career: Meyer was a Philadelphia-area native and had a very successful rise through the Phils' organization as a starter before making the club in 1955. He was used chiefly as a reliever that season (as he was the rest of his career) and he led the NL with 16 saves.  He finished second to Bill Virdon in the RoY voting.  He never matched that rookie season and his career, beset by injuries and other issues, ended with a few innings for the Phils in 1961. He died of heart problems in 1965 at the age of 35. 

In 1960: He was coming off a busy '59 season but was able to make only a few appearances through May before he was sidelined.

Off The Charts: If Wikipedia is to be believed...[Meyer's] career was negatively affected by his growing reputation as a drinker and late-night carouser. He was a member—with fellow pitchers Turk Farrell and Jim Owens—of the so-called "Dalton Gang", who received notoriety around baseball for multiple, and well-publicized, off-field incidents. 

His nephew, Brian Meyer pitched in 34 games as a reliever for the Astros from 1988 to 1990.

The Card: Looks like a nice crowd at Connie Mack was in attendance the day this picture was taken. It's unusual that a card shows so many folks in the stands since the pics seemingly were taken long before game time. My original copy of this card had a serious crease and this upgrade came my way just a few weeks ago at a card show. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

#63 George Strickland

George Strickland  Cleveland Indians

Career: He was a good-field, no-hit shortstop for ten seasons with the Pirates and Indians. He did have one nice year with the bat hitting .284 in 1953, his first full season in Cleveland. He appeared in three games in the 1954 Series against the Giants but went hitless in nine at-bats. He led the AL shortstops in fielding in 1955.

In 1960: He was at the end of his career but made the club due to an injury to Woody Held. He was on the bench for most of the summer and was released early in August. He had hit .167 in 32 games as a fill-in at short and third.

Off The Charts: According to SABR.."After his playing career ended, Strickland scouted for one year and coached for ten with the Indians, the Minnesota Twins, and the Kansas City Royals. In 1964 he became the first New Orleans native to manage in the majors when he filled in for an ailing Birdie Tebbetts."

The Card: The blurb mentions that he had been retired for a year before returning to the Indians in 1959. It's a nice combo of colors and it's a three-color combo at that.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

#62 Roger Craig

Roger Craig  Los Angeles Dodgers

Career: Craig had a nice four-year spell in the minors and a two-year military break before he debuted with the '55 Brooklyn Dodgers. He pitched seven years for them, on both coasts. Later he pitched through 1966 for the Phils, Cardinals, Mets, and Reds. He lost 20+ games for the Mets in each of their first two seasons which doesn't help his sub-.500 career win percentage. He almost split his appearances evenly between starts and the bullpen over the course of his career. He got MVP votes in 1959 when he won 11 games with four shutouts after being brought up in June.

He pitched in four World Series and won three of them. He later was a longtime pitching coach and had a 10-year managerial career with the Padres and Giants. His SF team won a pennant in 1989.

In 1960: He was coming off his best year and had 8 wins but his other numbers had begun to edge upwards which is why he was allowed to go to the Mets in the expansion draft a few years later. 

Off The Charts: He became associated with the split-finger fastball as a pitching coach and is sometimes credited with inventing it. Craig set the record straight: “People think I invented that,” Craig said. “I did not. Bruce Sutter did. I just found a way to teach it and it worked out.”

The Card: It's an oddly cropped photo. I get the feeling that this was a multi-player picture and this was how it had to be cropped to include only Craig. My guess on the locale is Wrigley Field. But I say that with not much confidence.

The cartoon references his second-half contributions to the Dodgers' 1959 championship season.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

#60 Gus Triandos

Gus Triandos  Baltimore Orioles

Career: The “Golden Greek of Chesapeake”, as he was known in Baltimore, began as a Yankees farmhand and was far down the list of catchers in the team's stocked system. The Yanks gave him a couple of looks and then he was dealt in a 17 player deal to the Orioles in November of 1954. He became the Orioles first 'star', a powerful, extremely slow, and much-loved icon in Charm City. He played eight seasons as the O's backstop and made the All-Star team three times. He hit 30 homers in 1958 to become the second AL catcher in history to hit that many in a year. He finished his career in 1965 after some time with the Phils, Tigers, and Astros.  

In 1960: He raised his average fifty points from 1959 but his power began to wane (12 homers) and he was not selected as an All-Star after having that honor for three consecutive years. 

Off The Charts: Triandos, who Bill James called the slowest player of the decade of the 50s, legged out an inside-the-park homer on August 31, 1957, in Memorial Stadium. The story goes that he hit the ball so hard it ricocheted past Ted Williams in right field and by the time Ted tracked it down Gus had crossed the plate standing up. Triandos' SABR bio, an otherwise wonderful read btw, gets the stadium wrong.

The Card: The cartoon informs us that he led all AL catchers in putouts in 1958. That means there were a lot of plays at the plate. Given the state of the Orioles staff at that point, it's not a surprise.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

#59 Juan Pizarro

Juan Pizarro  Milwaukee Braves

Career: He pitched for eight clubs over a span of 18 seasons and had a career that is often overlooked. His stats (131 wins, a sub 3.80 ERA and a good WHIP land him in the 'Hall of the Above Average' His best seasons came in 1963 and '64 with the White Sox and he made the All-Star teams in those two years. He won a ring with the '57 Braves and appeared in the '58 Series with them as well. 

In 1960: In his final season of four with the Braves he saw his stats (and workload) decline. He appeared in 21 games (17 starts) with a 4.55 ERA. He was dealt to the AL champion White Sox in a three-team deal after the season. The trade brought Roy McMillan to the Braves from the Reds.

Off The Charts: As a professional Pizarro won nearly 400 games including the majors (131), minors (66), the Mexican league (38) and the Puerto Rican Winter League (157). 

The Card: Another Seals Stadium shot with a nice color combo and the colorful Braves cap. I'm partial to Pizarro cards and have a nice PC of him.

Friday, March 8, 2019

#58 Gino Cimoli

Gino Cimoli   Pittsburgh Pirates

Career: He had an impressive minor league career in the Dodgers' chain but it was hard to move up in that stocked system. He debuted in Brooklyn in 1956 and went on to play for seven clubs over ten seasons. A .265 career hitter, he led the AL in triples in 1962 and in assists by an outfielder in '63. He made the NL All-Star team in 1956 and played in one game of that year's World Series.

In 1960: He was with his third club in as many years but was just in time to help the Bucs win the Series. As the team's fourth outfielder (behind Skinner, Virdon and Clemente) he hit .267 but his biggest moment came in Game Seven of the Series. He got a pinch single to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning that started the rally which put the Pirates in the lead (which they soon blew before they celebrated Mazeroski's famous homer).

Off The Charts: From Wikipedia...After retiring from baseball, Cimoli worked as a delivery driver for United Parcel Service where, in 1990, the company honored Cimoli for completing 21 years of service without a traffic accident. Cimoli, then 60 years old and still working for the company, was now referred to as "The Lou Gehrig of UPS."

He was the first player to bat in a major league game in California when he stepped into the box for the Dodgers at Seals Stadium on April 15, 1958, against Ruben Gomez and the Giants. He fanned, btw.

The Card: The picture is from 1959 and was taken in the park where he had made that first-in-history West Coast at-bat, Seals Stadium in San Francisco. Cimoli's card comes just a few numbers after Bill Mazeroski's and tells us that it was revised after the trade that winter.

Also revised was the last entry in his highlights list...The December 21 trade is shown and the font is just a bit lighter than the lines above it. I crawled down the rabbit hole and I've decided that the trade entry replaced one for his game on July 12 when he went 3 for five, homered, and then drove in the eventual winning run in the top of the tenth with a single to beat the Pirates. The single actually occurred a month later since the game (the second half of a doubleheader) had been suspended in the top of the ninth. So I'm guessing that the last entry originally looked like this:
  • July 12: Gets 3 hits, homer, and clutch single in extras to beat Bucs.

#57 Win-Savers

Turk Lown - Gerry Staley

In 1960: Following up on their AL title season that is documented in the card's text, these two relievers had solid years. Staley went 13-8 over 64 relief appearances with 10 saves while Lown added five saves.

The Card: A lot of these combo shots from vintage Topps sets feel like they were included just because they had a picture sitting around. This one had some reasoning behind it. Staley and Lown were a valuable 1-2 punch for Al Lopez in 1959.

Nice Yankee Stadium shot. #20 in the background Johnny Romano. He was the only White Sox player to wear that number in 1958/59, the two years that Lown and Staley were there prior to the card being issued.

The back is seriously mis-cut. But that sure isn't enough to warrant an upgrade.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

#56 Steve Korcheck

Steve Korcheck   Washington Senators

Career: After playing football and baseball at George Washington University he played in 58 games for the Senators over parts of four seasons which bracketed a two year Army service stint. He hit .159 for his career.

In 1960: This was Korcheck's last season as a pro and he spent it with the Nats' AAA affiliate in Charlotte. In a three-way platoon, he hit .230 with five homers. 

Off The Charts: From his obituary..."[He] was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers but chose to play baseball with the Washington Senators. And for most of his life, Steve was an avid golfer, satisfying his competitive fires while greatly enjoying the camaraderie of friends.'

'After his baseball career, Steve returned to George Washington [University] and earned Master’s and Doctoral degrees while managing the baseball team."

Personal note..he was playing at GWU when my father was a student there.

The Card: I normally like cards that have pink elements but the pink/red/yellow doesn't do much for me. That's the old Comiskey in the background.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

#55 Bill Mazeroski

Bill Mazeroski   Pittsburgh Pirates

Career: Maz was a 2001 Hall of Fame inductee via the Veterans Committee. He was originally signed by Branch Rickey as a shortstop. He went on to fame as an outstanding glove man and through his legendary homer that won the 1960 Series.  He player 17 big league seasons, all with the Pirates and was a seven time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glave winner.

In 1960: He hit .273 which was close to his career high and made the All-Star team. Of course that digneris the only hit he really needed to make a name for himself and carve out a spot in baseball lore.

Off The Charts: Maz also homered in Game One of the 1960 Series and had a .323 career postseason batting average.

The Card: It's really a classic...the chaw, Wrigley Field, pink/white/black bottom block. Gotta love this one.